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Efficiency Benchmarks: Memory Usage

Web Browser Grand Prix VI: Firefox 6, Chrome 13, Mac OS X Lion

Light Load

The placing for single-tab memory usage remains the same as what we saw in WBGP5, with IE9 in the lead, closely followed by Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera.

On Mac OS X, all of the memory usage totals are higher than Windows 7, and the order is re-arranged. The top spot goes to Opera. Second place goes to Safari 5.1, with just under 100 MB. Chrome takes third, while Firefox uses nearly 130 MB to finish last.

Heavy Load

For the first time in the WBGP, Safari manages to fully load all 40 tabs at the same time without freezing. Previously, we had to open each of the 40 tabs individually in Apple's browser.

In WBGP5, we also reported some odd behavior from Internet Explorer 9 in these tests. Microsoft's browser would display certain white space-heavy pages in all black, and sometimes freeze entirely. This time around, we used the WHQL-certified AMD graphics driver provided by Windows Update instead of the company's website, and this phenomenon did not occur. After running through the full benchmark suite, we installed the latest Catalyst suite and retested. Sure enough, the wonky behavior returns with the Catalyst driver installed. The video below shows the white space issue on Wikipedia at 1:20:

IE9/Catalyst White Space Fail

The next video show the complete freeze-up at 1:50:

IE9/Catalyst Freeze Fail

Now on to this story's 40-tab memory test:

The order again looks similar to what we saw last time. Safari uses the least amount of RAM to open 40 tabs. Firefox retains its second-place status, consuming three-quarters of a gigabyte. Opera is not far behind in third, still under 800 MB. Chrome 13 drops to fifth, allowing Microsoft's IE9 to jump into fourth.

In OS X, Safari 5.1 still uses the least memory of any Web browser, though nearly 100 MB more than it does in Windows. Opera moves to second place with 40 tabs open in OS X, hovering just over the 800 MB line. Firefox 6 uses nearly 1.2 GB to take third, while last-place finisher Chrome 13 uses a a whopping 1.8 GB.

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